Stan Van Gundy's tough love paying dividends in the Motor City

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When Stan Van Gundy arrived in Detroit in May 2014 to take on the role of head coach and President of Basketball Operations, the Pistons had just finished their sixth straight losing season and would be watching the playoffs from their sofa for the fifth year running.

Now, with just 21 games left to go in the 2015-16 season, the Pistons find themselves in eighth place in the Eastern Conference just 2.5 games back from fifth. They have a real chance of bringing postseason basketball back to the Motor City for the first time since 2009.

Turning things around

After his debut season in Detroit ended in another losing record - remember, Rome wasn't built in a day - Van Gundy has installed the foundations of a winning team this year and, to many, is ahead of schedule.

Andre Drummond, the Pistons' All-Star center and one of the main beneficiaries of life under Van Gundy, recently spoke to GiveMeSport about exactly how the former Miami and Orlando coach has helped turn things around:

"He has done a great job of opening the floor for me to get space in the paint and work," Drummond explained during All-Star weekend.

"He has brought in guys who are willing passers and capable shooters as well, too. So it is really starting to come together.

"We have seven different guys on our team. He has brought in guys who are really tough, they are hungry to keep going and help get to the next level."

With Drummond playing at an All-Star level and point guard Reggie Jackson not too far away from that standard this season, an air of anticipation has certainly returned to The Palace in recent months.

What's more, with the recent arrival of Tobias Harris, Van Gundy is adding more weapons to his arsenal beyond his reliance on the pick-and-roll offense by which he has made his name.

Combine that with a typically dogged defense - the Pistons rank 10th in the NBA in defensive efficiency in 2015-16 - and the seeds for success have been sown, for this year and beyond.

Tough love

The 56-year-old's unique coaching style has also played a part in the Pistons' rise from the NBA doldrums this season.

Shaquille O'Neal may have described Van Gundy as 'the master of panic' back in his Miami days, but Drummond is all-in on the man who recently sought to improve the roster's team bonding with a snowball fight:

"Stan is Stan, man. He is a different kind of guy, I've never had a coach like him before. He is similar to my college coach [Jim Cahoon] but he is fun to play for,"

"He brings energy on and off the floor. He makes you want to play for him. His coaching style is tough love."

Van Gundy's 'tough love' once took the Orlando Magic to within three games of the NBA title. Of course, he would be the first to admit that Detroit isn't near that level just yet.

Nevertheless, he has the team trending in the right direction as the business end of the season approaches.

If he can continue to nurture a relatively young roster on the court whilst fine-tuning things behind the scenes, the good times might not be too far away from returning for Detroit.

Eastern Conference
Central Division
Detroit Pistons
Andre Drummond

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